‘We haven’t seen the light of day for weeks’

Pleun: „We both come from North Limburg: I ​​from Meerlo and Roel from Swolgen. We met there at the local fair.”

Roel: „Yes, in one of those party tents with music. It wasn’t all that serious until Pleun went to Australia for a year when she was eighteen and I followed her.”

Pleun: “That was exciting for a while, suddenly together all the time, but it went well. Traveling turned out to be a shared passion. So when we came back from Australia, we worked full-time in a factory for three or four months to save up for another trip to Southeast Asia.”

Roel: “For weeks we have not seen daylight because we took all evening shifts.”

Pleun: “After that trip I went to study in Nijmegen and we rented a room together at the Kronenburgerpark. We later ended up in Gouda for work and we have been living here in Rheden for seven years. The polder is beautiful, but we missed the woods too much. Here you experience the seasons much more clearly and running through the forest is the best thing there is.”

Roel: “We live here with our three children who are now 11, 9 and 6. I love that they are a bit older now. They make their own breakfast, so I can go for a run in the morning. You no longer have to keep them busy all the time.”

Pleun: „Well, I played thirty more games of Uno with them on Wednesday afternoon this week. But it’s true: they are much more independent and come home with their own stories. I like to notice that.”

Roel: “Adolescence is also a topical subject here. When Pleun and I give each other a kiss, they put their hands over their eyes and shout: ‘Ew! Ew!’”

Pleun: “I also seem to dance in the kitchen when I’m stirring the pan. I never had any complaints about that, until the eldest had a friend to play with and shouted: má-ma!”

Roel: “At the table you also notice that the portions need to be bigger. We used to order the children’s menu three times in a restaurant, now they just eat a whole meal.”

Pleun: “We try to give everyone at the table the floor and teach them to show interest in others. So then I make a suggestion: and… ? Nowadays they already add semi-tired: ‘how was your day, mom?’”

Tasks evenly distributed

Roel: “I work five days a week, Pleun four days, but that will be four and a half from next month.”

Pleun: “That free Wednesday morning I was already working nine times out of ten. Then you might as well get paid for it.”

Roel: “I have been working for the Steenbreek foundation for eight years now, of which the last three years as director. The foundation is an initiative of a number of ecologists and former professors who were concerned about the petrification of gardens in the Netherlands. Many people choose tiles because they think a garden is a lot of work. We show that it is not too bad and that a garden has many positive effects: for biodiversity, but also on a hot summer day. Then it is nicer to sit under a tree than on a paving stone. That message seems to have reached the government in the meantime, but it sometimes remains a challenge for garden owners. We are working hard on that.”

Pleun: “I work as a teacher at a university of applied sciences in Velp, where I teach various courses in the International Development Management study and also do my own research. I was well on my way to building a career in the scientific world: I did a PhD and a postdoc at Radboud University in Nijmegen. But I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t want to. That competition and scoring urge in science don’t suit me. I prefer my research to actually yield results. That is why I now find more satisfaction at the Hogeschool, where the research is much more practice-oriented.”

Roel: “In the household we have divided the tasks evenly. Although I think I cook a little more.”

Pleun: “Mm, I actually think I cook a little more. But it won’t be much different.”

Pleun: “We always intend to go through our work agendas on Sunday evening, but in practice that never happens. We text ourselves during the day about who cooks or picks up the children.”

Roel: “The eldest now has a key and comes home himself. The other two go to the BSO two to three days a week. Because I work from home a lot, I often pick them up at the end of the afternoon.”

Pleun: „After dinner we all look at it Youth News and then the youngest goes to bed. The boys often watch after that these days Lingo of First Dates. In the summer we go for a long walk through the woods, but we often also open the laptops – I’ll be honest.”

Roel: “Just update the email. That just works well in the evening.”

Pleun: „I am preparing my lessons in the evening, but I really try to stop at 10 pm. Otherwise I sleep badly.”

Roel: “We both have a different type of job, but it is both about greenery and participation.”

Pleun: “Recently, when Roel said that Steenbreek wanted to have a study carried out and thought of Wageningen University, I said: why not the Hogeschool? Now it will probably be a collaboration.”

Roel: “We discuss something like that when we drink a cup of coffee together on the bench in front of our house. Work and private life overlap, but not in an unpleasant way.”

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